Friday, August 26, 2011

The Ants as Characters

The ants represent ‘normal’ in the game. The ants are the common insects by which all other species are measured; the weirdness or oddity of other species is proportionate to the relative normalcy represented by the ants.
However, this also means that the ants are the most malleable. For instance, all potato bugs have some mysticism inherent in them; furthermore, they cannot use such things as cybernetics. Their attunement to the spiritual world makes them incompatible with technology that would augment their abilities. However, you could conceivably have a psychic ant with a cybernetic arm and who carries a satchel he stole from a spider that allows him to control flame.

Design-wise, an army ant grunt starts with a limit of +5 in any ability; although he can buy any ability he wants. If he wants to go further than this, he has to make some decisions. I see the grunt ‘class’ (speciality?) as I saw the adventurer archetype for RTSR… it’s a jack of all trades approach that allows you to only go so far in each thing you do.

I see the scale of the game somewhat smaller than RTSR and the supers game… a top-level ant is only going to hit about 50 CPs. This is exceptionally experienced and knowledgeable. I don’t see 50 as a hard cap for the game necessarily, but it could end up that way. I like the idea of 50 CPs being the normal cap, but every augmentation you take (for example, cybernetic arms, replacing an eye with one you recover from an undead beetle, or wearing a mystical pendant that increases your evade) increases your cap by 5 CPs. With the three augmentations, you’d be able to increase your character up to 65 CPs.

This means that ants should have fewer rated abilities available to them. You’d buy all sorts of special things as applications of your abilities that allow you to progress further. For example, your might is normally limited to +5 (9 CPs). However, if you purchase cybernetic arms (2 CPs), you get to increase your might further. Hmmm.

Actually, the better way to go with this might be to build in an automatic limitation to your ability (so you don’t take cybernetic arms for 2 CPs; you take it for free, but get a limitation that piggy backs with the benefit). For example, if you use mysticism to increase your might, you draw upon ancient spirits to drive your might; so, if you botch a might action roll, your might fails, and you lose 2D CPs from might for the rest of the scene (as a for instance). If you have cybernetic arms, you are now susceptible to electrical damage, or you can actually have your might completely negated by being electrocuted or running out of battery power. There are many possibilities, and I could easily see each having a short table of sample limitations. Since I’m thinking cybernetics, here are some options:

Cybernetics Limitations (Roll D6)

1-2. Power source. You need to re-charge your batteries over time. The referee rolls at the beginning of each scene (target 13), with success meaning that your power source dies, and you default to your +5 max until you can recharge. Each consecutive scene you go without charging your batteries on a power source increases the roll +1; if you have gone 5 scenes without charging, the referee rolls 2D+5 (target 13). The referee gets to determine when in the round your power runs out (or rolls randomly; D6 for the round in which your power source fails). Now, for only 2 CPs you can purchase improved power source, which increases the target to 16 for this roll, giving you longer stretches wherein you won’t run out of juice.

3-4. Surge Susceptible. Whenever you take electrical damage, you have to roll the ability (target equal to the wounds you suffered) to keep from shorting out and defaulting to +5 until you can get repairs made. If you suffer 15 wounds from an electrical strike, you have to roll might (target 15) or have your cybernetics short out until repaired. Repairs require a weapon tinkering roll (target equal to 7+ your rating) to fix. If you have might +7, you or an ally needs to make a tinkering roll (target 14) to fix your cybernetic arms.

5-6. Water Susceptible. Your cybernetic device needs to stay dry. When you come into contact with water, you have to roll 2D + the intensity of water (target 13) or have your cybernetics short out for the rest of the scene (default to +5 rating). A moderate rainfall is a +1 modifier, while being caught in a downpour would be +2, and actually submerging your cybernetics (diving into a river) is +4. The device is designed to keep water out, but the mechanics of it aren’t perfect…